Monday, Sep. 07, 2009

Imelda Marcos

Though Imelda Marcos may be best known for her extensive collection of shoes, gowns, and jewelry, there was much more to her. The former beauty queen married then-Philippine Congressman Ferdinand E. Marcos, who would become the country's 10th President in 1966. And Imelda, whom Marcos appointed to various positions in government, was a polarizing figure early on; in 1972, an assailant, Carlito Dimahilig, tried to stab her to death during a televised award ceremony.

Her Special Envoy duties took her around the world but went hand in hand with a lavish lifestyle, which reportedly included multi-million-dollar shopping trips to New York, Rome and Copenhagen; a massive property portfolia (although Marcos declined to buy the Empire State Building for $750m as she considered it "too ostentatious") and a collection of art including works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Canaletto. Marcos, who eventually had to sell or give up nearly all of her riches after her husband was overthrown in a popular revolt in 1986, responded to criticisms of her extravagance by maintaining it was her "duty" to be "some kind of light, a star to give [the poor] guidelines." Earlier this month, Imelda gave an interview where she admitted that she still dreams of a return to power — but this time with her son Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as president.

Read: "The Shoes of Imelda Marcos."